Friday, October 7, 2011

The Willies (1990)

My hunt for anthology movies lead me to a German release called Campfire Horror Tales. I thought it was Campfire Tales from 1991, but when I came home and took a closer look at the cover I realized it was The Willies, a kiddie-horror from 1990 instead! I was disappointed, to be honest. After reading some reviews, most of them negative, I decided to throw away all hope that this was a good movie and just watch it with an open mind. Was it worth it? Continue to read and you'll see...

The kids, one of them a very young Sean Astin, is out camping in the backyards and decides to give each other the willies with telling scary, true, stories. After a few short ones - about the lady who dries her dog in the microwave oven for example - the first main story is told. It's about a boy discovering the janitor in his school is a monster dressed in human skin and kills people who act mean against the boy. The second story is a dark tale of a fat kid obsessed by dead flies. He's in a constant war against a weird old man with a talent for growing huge vegetables with his "miracle manure"...

I'm not sure who this movie was aimed at, but it's obviously a movie for kids - if it wasn't for the very dark subjects, the mild gore and blood and some truly disturbing pieces of celluloid. But for once the story is as macabre as kids can be in real life, because if someone really think a child's imagination is just football and horses, they are very wrong. The Willies sets itself at the same level as the scary stories told by kids all over the world, but is a bit to sloppily made to make a powerful impact. The budget was obviously very low and there's a couple of embarrassing mistakes that could have been avoided. The cinematography is often very flat and the child-actors... OMG, this is among the worst I've seen. Some of them can't even walk by the camera without looking like a wax doll on wheels.

On the other side, the grown-up actors are good and James Karen and Kathleen Freeman makes fun supporting parts. Clu Gulager makes an almost pointless cameo which is more or less a role that anybody could have played. A wasted opportunity. Sean Astin is not bad either and Dana Ashbrook has blink-and-you'll-miss-him-part.

What's surprising is the violence. Not overly graphic, but there's a nasty throat-slitting (which in the movie itself is fake, but still), an exploding dog, blood-spurts and a cool old-fashioned rubber-monster (that story, I see now, is a bit inspired by The Crate-episode in Creepshow) and a couple of other scenes you never would see in a kids movie nowadays.

The Willies was a quite ok movie, better than I thought it would be. But it would have been a stronger movie with three or four shorter stories than two longer, but complaining now seem a bit pointless. Better just enjoy it for what it is.

2 comments:

raculfright_13 said...

I remember seeing this movie back when I was a small child and I liked it. My cousins (who are 5-6 years older than me)... Nope. It scared them big time, haha.

Ninja Dixon said...

I can understand that, it's a dark family-movie! :D